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Business model overhaul key to improving train services

I read with astonishment and disappointment the news that some MRT carriages had to be sent back to China for repairs due to defects (“26 trains SMRT ordered from China sent back for repairs”; July 6), and also the handling of the incident by SMRT, the Ministry of Transport and the Land Transport Authority.

I read with astonishment and disappointment the news that some MRT carriages had to be sent back to China for repairs due to defects (“26 trains SMRT ordered from China sent back for repairs”; July 6), and also the handling of the incident by SMRT, the Ministry of Transport and the Land Transport Authority.

We cannot call ourselves a First World nation if we cannot even get our public transport issues sorted out.

Through my travels, I have found that efficient and reliable public transport is really the face of a country. Do the trains come on time? Are they clean? Are they a suitable alternative to cars? Is service often disrupted?

Our public transport system may be better than those in many countries, but for us to improve, we should start comparing ourselves with nations that have superior systems, such as Germany and Austria.

Perhaps a change in the business model of our MRT system is required, much like how the bus contracting model was introduced, where the Government owns the infrastructure while companies bid for routes.

Many countries have nationalised their public transport systems to some extent, and are still efficient and reliable, without profit being the bottom line.

I believe Singapore can do better.

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